Egyptian Theatre receives $200K grant from Illinois Office of Tourism

The Egyptian Theatre in Downtown DeKalb is excited to announce it has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Illinois Office of Tourism. This state grant, which hasn’t been awarded since 2015, will help bolster the state’s tourism industry which generated over $3 billion in tax revenue for state and local communities last year.

The Tourism Attraction Grant Program will help develop new or enhance existing tourism attractions to grow visitation and overnight stays in Illinois.  Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) provided grant funding to 13 organizations in the amount of $1.4 million. There was significant demand for this grant program, receiving four times the number of requests than available funding.

“Travel and tourism in Illinois is a $40 billion industry and we are glad to support our communities in their efforts to attract new and returning visitors to their attractions,” said Erin Guthrie, Acting Director of the Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO).  “We are glad DCEO can support the tourism economy in local communities with these grant programs.”

The Egyptian Theatre is embarking on a $4.5 million expansion that will consist of a two-story addition that will add restrooms, concessions and storage spaces that will enhance the visitor experience at the historic theatre. Most importantly, installation of air conditioning will allow the theatre to remain open year-round with programming. This will dramatically grow the cultural and economic annual impact that the Theatre contributes to the region. It will also significantly improve the ongoing preservation efforts of the historic building that is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, named in the Top 20 Architectural Treasures by the State of Illinois Tourism and named 1 of 150 Great Places in Illinois by the American Institute of Architects.

“We are thrilled to be recognized as one of the premier tourist attractions in the State of Illinois,” Alex Nerad, Executive Director at the Egyptian Theatre said. “The Egyptian Theatre is a jewel of DeKalb and a tremendous asset in the State of Illinois.  This project will build upon that success and prepare the Egyptian for the next 90 years.”

The Egyptian Theatre currently welcomes over 40,000 people through its doors each year. These patrons come from 36 different states and 47 counties in Illinois resulting in over $2 million in direct economic impact. Current projections show the new year-round programming will increase attendance to over 54,000 with a total direct economic impact in excess of $3 million.

“This is a real honor to receive this grant,” said Dan Schewe, Egyptian Theatre Board President. “We are extremely grateful for this funding support in addition to the City of DeKalb TIF funding and many individual donors.”

For more information and to keep up on the latest news regarding this expansion, please visit

The Egyptian Theatre located at 135 N. 2nd Street in Downtown DeKalb, IL is owned and operated by Preservation of Egyptian Theatre, Inc. a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  Annual support provided by First National Bank, Northwestern Medicine, Shaw Media, and Tapa La Luna.

Posted in Press Releases Tagged

Backstage at the Egyptian: Brandon Pugh

  1. How important are the volunteers to the Egyptian Theatre?
    1. Volunteers are ESSENTIAL to the continued success of the Egyptian Theatre. We could not do what we do each year without the continued support of our dedicated and loyal volunteers. Without the volunteer support we receive from community members, family, and friends, the Egyptian Theatre would not be what it is today. When the nonprofit Preservation of Egyptian Theatre, Inc. was formed in 1978, volunteer support became pivotal to the future success of the theatre. From validating tickets, working in concessions to seating patrons as an usher, each and every event we host, there are volunteers present. Within the last two years alone, the Egyptian Theatre has progressed from presenting 3 of their own events each season (Fall and Spring) to presenting a staggering 18 of their own events each season. Let us look at those additional 15 presented events…without the support of volunteers, this would not have been possible. Let us also be reminded that when the Egyptian Theatre is FINALLY opened year-round, we are looking at an additional 45+ events each year…also impossible without the continued support of volunteers!


  1. What do you do to ensure that the volunteers are well trained and informed, i.e. in case of an emergency?
    1. Before interning with the Egyptian from September 2015 through May 2016, there was no formal training that volunteers would be subject to before being permitted to volunteer their first event. As a venue, we try to stay aligned with the best practices regarding safety and security. Regionally and Nationally, we are consistently looking to our fellow performing arts venues to see what they are doing to stay on top of emergency preparedness. Within the last two years, I have streamlined an ‘Orientation & Training’ that all volunteers (veteran & new) must attend before being granted access to sign up to volunteer. As well as the Orientation and Training, we have also begun hosting Emergency Preparedness & Evacuation Training, which is separate AND mandatory for all volunteers. This Emergency Preparedness & Evacuation Training allows volunteers, security and staff the ability to talk through evacuation drills, practice them, and debrief.
    2. Before each event that the Egyptian Theatre hosts, we have what I call a ‘Preshow Meeting’. At these meetings, I go over ticket sales, trends for that specific event, and offer up any pertinent information regarding the Theatre. As we as staff continue to uncover new information, I make sure to share it with volunteers. I feel that by sharing information & history, it keeps volunteers interested and invested to the Egyptian Theatre.     


  1. What do you enjoy most about working with the volunteers?
    1. I absolutely love talking with and getting to know our volunteers! I enjoy getting to know the backgrounds and experiences of the volunteers. Through talking with the vast array of volunteers, I constantly find myself learning about new things that I would have never thought about, had it not been for the volunteers. I just enjoy being able to work side by side with volunteers; I don’t simply schedule them and hope they show up – It’s a team effort from the time they arrive until the time they leave for the evening. I strive to show volunteers that I don’t expect things out of them that I myself or other staff members would not do.


  1. Any last words to the volunteers and those that might want to volunteer in the future?
    1. On a personal level, I want to thank each and every volunteer that has donated their time in helping keep the Egyptian Theatre open. We sincerely could not program at the capacity we do without the dedicated and devoted volunteer base that we have. We are beyond fortunate to receive the help that we do; nothing is more precious than time! We hope everyone is able to volunteer at the Egyptian at some point; whether once a year, twice or month, or every event – the opportunities are endless. As volunteer coordinator, I work diligently to foster a fun, accepting, and safe work environment for all!
    2. While I wish I could say that I came up with this poem, I did not. However, it is a phenomenal poem and one I thought was worth sharing!


Volunteers Have
Hearts of Gold
Helping People
Young & Old
Always Giving
Always Sharing,
Are always caring!


Posted in News

Backstage at the Egyptian: Scotty McCreery

Interview with Scotty McCreery

Conducted by Michaela Alcantar

Michaela: Having co-written most your songs, what is your process and inspiration for creating new ones?

Scotty: Real life is my main inspiration for writing.  I like to take something that I’ve experienced or someone I know has experienced and transform it into a song.  All of the love songs I’ve written were inspired by my wife Gabi.

Michaela: Since your debut, you’ve had meet countless of people in your travels; is there a meeting and interaction with someone that you remember to this day?

Scotty: I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some amazing people so far in this career: Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Josh Turner, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Harry Connick Jr., Charlie Daniels, Priscilla Presley, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Steven Curtis Chapman, and President Barack Obama, just to name a few.  One of my favorite artists is R&B legend Charlie Wilson – I’ve loved him since I first heard him on the radio when I was a kid. When he played a concert in Raleigh a few years back, he invited me on stage to sing with him and that was such a huge thrill for me. We hung out backstage for a bit and he’s just a great guy. And his life story is inspiring – I think everyone should read his memoir, I Am Charlie Wilson.

Michaela: How does it feel when you receive an award that recognizes your work and talent throughout the years?

Scotty: I put my entire heart and soul into my music, and it’s always nice to have my work recognized from time to time. But I don’t do this for awards. I love to create and perform music. It’s my passion. And through my music, I hope to be a positive light in this world.

Michaela: Do you have any goals, professional or personal, you would want to reach in the coming years?

Scotty: Personally, I just got married last year and I’m striving to be a good husband.  At some point in the future, I want to be a father and raise a family.  Professionally, I want to get better and better at my craft. I want to play venues I haven’t played before such as Red Rocks in Denver.  And one day, I hope to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Michaela: Do you have any last words for those that are going to the show?

Scotty: I appreciate everybody coming out to see the show and I hope everyone has a great time!

Posted in News Tagged

Volunteer Appreciation Spotlight: Mary McGinn

I was born in the Great State of Texas, 4th of 8 children, more years ago than I’ll willingly admit to.  In my day job, I work at NIU teaching cadaver-based human anatomy.  I’m a terrible dancer, but a good cook.

I fell in love with the Egyptian Theatre from my first visit nearly 20 years ago.  It was the day after Thanksgiving, the kids had no school and I had no plans.  My husband, Vince, saw that the Egyptian was showing a free movie.  We took Julie and Nate.  They had popcorn, candy and soda for lunch—a real treat for them—and talked about it for days afterwards.   We were all in awe of the statues and the murals and the blinking lights overhead.  Over the years, we’ve seen movies like Gone With the Wind and Finding Nemo, and every Christmas we’d watch the Nutcracker ballet. 

I love being part of the growth of the Theatre.  The Egyptian is expanding its programs—and bathrooms!—without sacrificing the integrity of its original design.  When I volunteer, I’m always excited to meet people who have never seen the Theatre before and to try and make them feel welcomed.  When I die, I plan to haunt the Egyptian for at least 50 years before I move on to my final reward, most likely in concessions.   Who-ooo-ooo wants popcorn? 

Posted in News

Backstage at the Egyptian: Ginger Simons of Irrational Masters

Interview with Ginger Simons from the Irrational Masters

Conducted by Michaela Alcantar

Michaela: How did you get involved with Irrational Masters?

Ginger: I joined cast two summers ago, right as I was transferring to NIU. Community college was a bit isolating for me, and I was itching to be a part of some sort of group in the DeKalb area and make some friends. I’ve been a fan of Rocky Horror since I was a kid (yikes), and when I found the Irrational Masters, I just knew I had to be a part of it.  

Michaela: What do you enjoy most about being with Irrational Masters and shadow casting?

Ginger: I did theatre all throughout high school, but was never really the “acting” type. I enjoy shadow casting because it has all of the bells and whistles of live theatrical performance, but it’s also a more casual and spontaneous environment. At the end of the day, it’s just a bunch of people in a room (performers and audience members alike) having fun and letting loose. Everyone gets to be a part of the show. 

Michaela: What is it like to be part of this multi-generational phenomenon show?

Ginger: There’s so much history to Rocky, and what’s really fascinating is how this weird movie from the 70s spawned a huge cult following that’s still going strong today. There are active Rocky shadow casts all over the country, and while there are differences to the way each cast does the show, there’s so much to what we all do that’s been around forever. Sometimes we get older folks who come up to us after a performance and tell us they’ve been going to Rocky shows for decades, and that so many of the callbacks and bits are the same as they remember from back in the day. The spirit is still very much alive, and there’s a huge sense of community that accompanies it. 

Michaela: What is your favorite part in The Rocky Horror Picture Show?

Ginger: This is a hard question, because it totally depends on what role I’m playing and if we’re talking about the show or the movie itself. The Floorshow is definitely a cool, “picturesque” Rocky moment, but so many of the songs are just straight up fun, both to perform and to listen to. I’ve always been a fan of “Hot Patootie”. I’ve never played Eddie, but man, is that scene fun to watch. 

Michaela: How would you describe The Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast performance to someone that has never seen it?

Ginger: It’s probably not like anything you’ve seen before. Even if you’ve seen the movie, the live show is a completely different animal. In a very clinical sense, it’s like a mix between watching a movie and a play, but that doesn’t quite do it justice. Audience interaction is a huge part of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, so you’re going to have people around you yelling things and actors interacting with you throughout. Expect to be pushed a little bit out of your comfort zone, and then never want to leave.

Posted in News Tagged